Motion Auto’s Denese Ross is ready to launch

Denese Ross’s insurance career covered a lot of the typical nuts and bolts of insurance during stints at Commerce Insurance and CSAA, among others. But it was in her second stint at the latter that she had an “a-ha” moment that set off the chain of events bringing her to usage-based insurance MGA Motion Auto, where she is chief underwriting officer today.

CSAA was offering a nonstandard auto product from a different carrier through its captive agents because it didn’t have one itself, and that carrier’s digital infrastructure was more evolved. “It was easier to do business with them than AAA, so the agents are selling those policies more,” she says.

Ross identified the digital direction of insurance and worked within CSAA to increase their innovation infrastructure as the company grew. From there she moved on to Commerce West (now part of Mapfre) and GMAC Insurance. Eventually she started an insurance consulting firm, which led to her involvement in the nascent insurtech movement, and eventually to Motion Auto.

The company is based in Lehi, Utah — one of the two states where it is currently selling products — but Ross remains working in the Bay Area. That doesn’t make her any less crucial to the mission. Ross is responsible for the strategy and oversight of the company’s private passenger auto insurance, integrating telematics data, and identifying new rating factors, product development, strategic partnerships and relationships. Among the partnerships she spearheaded: A collaboration with the Telenav in-car infotainment system to glean data for insurance.

“Things are just exponentially growing in terms of data” that can power UBI, she says. “Every year it’s like the timeline’s compressing a little bit. There’s a lot of experimentation that is possible because it’s cheaper to do it.”

That’s only one half of the UBI equation, of course — the other part comes from consumer acceptance. And current circumstances may push more people in that…

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